Valentin Klavierquartett

Mendelssohn, Preussen: Piano Quartets

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It is not very often that we hear the actual compositions of musical patrons or nobility, although we know that historically many of them received at least some level of musical training. In the case of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, musical gifts went far beyond any perfunctory training he would have received as a child. He was both a gifted and prolific composer as well as an accomplished pianist who Beethoven himself admired. This album, featuring the Valentin Piano Quartet, gives listeners what might be their first and maybe only exposure to Ferdinand's E flat major Piano Quartet. While not on the same order of depth or profundity as some of his contemporaries, it is nonetheless a stately, charming, and completely enjoyable composition. Also on this CD is Mendelssohn's Second Piano Quartet, composed when Mendelssohn was all of 14 years of age. Already present is Mendelssohn's virtuosic and nimble use of the piano and his mature interplay between the four instruments. Both of these works are given completely satisfying, convincing performances by the Valentin Piano Quartet. The playing is crisp, clean, and light without being superficial. Balance between the instruments is superb, with the piano never drowning out the strings. Other aspects -- from intonation, articulation, and phrasing -- are equally polished. The clear sound quality captured on the SACD layer of the album puts listeners right on-stage with the musicians.

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